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What Are Dust Mites And Do They Bite?

Updated on May 25, 2018
Reginald Thomas profile image

Reginald has been a sleep specialist for the past 20 years, training new and veteran associates in the retail mattress industry.

What Are Dust Mites And Do They Bite?

The Dust Mite is a tiny bug related to the spider family that thrives in warm and humid places. According to the Entomology Department at the University of Kentucky, "House Dust Mites are little bugs about 0.5 mm long and the immature's are even smaller, generally only visible with the aid of a microscope".

Contrary to popular belief, these bugs do not bite and should not be confused with what is known as a bed bug which will bite human flesh.This pesky little bug simply feeds off of the dead skin of humans and pets. The average human sheds around one million skin cells per day, mostly when we are tossing and turning in our beds at night.

So, if we don't have to worry about them biting us then, what's the problem? The waste products of the dust mite (feces and dead decaying dust mites) produce an enzyme which is what causes allergic reactions sensitive to adults and children when the become airborne and then inhaled.

This article explains about the dust mite and how to treat your home to make it a healthier environment.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
One House Dust Mite under a microscope.
One House Dust Mite under a microscope.
One House Dust Mite under a microscope. | Source

Dust Mite Allergy Symptoms!

Before running out to the nearest Pharmacy to purchase a bunch of over the counter quick fixes for a cold but what could be allergies caused by the house dust mite.

You may be the cleanest of all homes, but it doesn't take much for a house dust mite population to grow. These enzymes or allergens from dust mites can easily be inhaled creating various reactions in a very short period of time. The reactions will vary depending on the sensitivity of the person. You may show the following symptoms:

  • Running and itchy nose
  • Post nasal drip
  • Congestion
  • Cough
  • Watery and red eyes
  • Asthma
  • Eczema ( dermatitis - inflammatory skin disease )


Control Dust Mite Populations!

Where do we find 'dust mites'? They can be found in curtains, drapes, fabric covered furniture, rugs, wall to wall carpeting, mattresses, bedding, pet dander.

Studies have shown that the greatest populations of dust mites is found in the bedroom. This would include the mattress and box spring, pillows, comforter, blankets, sheets, pillowcases and anything else that we put on our beds. This area is where you will find the most dust mites in your home and is where you need to start controlling the problem. Remember, they like warm and humid places to grow. For the purpose of this article, we will concentrate our efforts in the bedroom.

The following checklist will be a good guide for how to treat the bedroom and making it healthier.

WASHING THE LINENS

Your linens or bedding (sheets, pillows and cases, blankets, comforters) are the first playground and cafeteria for hungry dust mites. They should be washed frequently in hot water to a temperature of at least 130 degrees to kill the top layer of these little 'buggers'. To ensure that you got them, dry the linens in a hot dryer and you will have the first stage done.

On the day that you're going to strip the beds and wash the linens, it is a good idea to pull back the curtains, open the window and let the sunshine In the room.

VACUUMING

Vacuuming is usually a routine activity in the average home, but for this purpose we need to be aware of a few things:

  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. This will help to insure that whatever goes in the machine doesn't come out.
  • If you have carpeting in the bedroom(s), be sure to go slow. Do not rush through this project. If you have hardwood floors you may want to use a damp cloth to get the most up the first time. The goal here is to keep the dust from going airborne so we're not inhaling It.
  • You definitely will want to vacuum the mattresses in every room, making sure that you get not only the top of the mattress but the sides and then flip it over. A little more work, but well worth the effort. Don't, forget the boxspring.
  • The first time that you tackle this project you want to spend as much time as needed to be thorough. After this, you can set up a good routine to keep ahead of the dust mite populations.

CHILD TOYS

I don't know a child anywhere that doesn't own a stuffed toy or several for that matter. It is very important that we don't forget this item as the dust mite loves the stuffed toys as much as your child. These toys should be treated the same as your bedding if possible. I do remember a trick that I did with my daughters' favorite stuffed animal. I took it and put it in a plastic bag and stuck it in the freezer for six hours. Putting that stuffed animal in "time-out" killed all of the dust mites.

MATTRESSES AND PILLOWS

The number one area in the house that we spend the most time resting and sleeping is on our mattresses and pillows. How many bedrooms do you have in your house? This will give you a good idea of the work ahead of you. Again, once you get the populations under control in the bedrooms then you can make a regular routine for yourself and have a healthier sleep area. We will go into this a little more later in the article.

DEHUMIDIFIER

Depending on the person that most needs it, A dehumidifier might be in order. I have one in my bedroom for my wife and use it throughout the year especially in the peak days of the summer where it is more humid. Having a dehumidifier will definitely help and should be kept at a setting of 50%. This gives the dust mites less of a chance to be comfortable.

CARPETING

A rug or wall to wall carpeting is another favorite place for dust mites. The children rolling around on the carpeted floor with their teddy bears and or dog or cat. can send these allergens into the air and inhaled by people in the room.

If this is a big problem and contributes to severe allergenic reactions, you may want to think about taking out the carpeting and replacing it with another type of flooring like wood or tile.

Start with the Bedrooms!

House Dust Mites Under a Microscopic

Source

Mattress and Pillow Protectors!

I have been in the bedding industry for 20 years and this next piece of advise is one of the best ways to control dust mite populations in your bedrooms. Remembering that we spend one third of our lives in our bed sleeping and just to say it again that this is where most of the dust mites accumulate, every mattress in your home should have a Mattress Protector on it. The same can be said about your pillow under your head. This should have a Pillow Protector.

The difference between a mattress protector and a mattress pad is very simple. A mattress pad is just doing a quarter of the job by covering the mattress before putting on your bottom sheet. It is actually adding to the problem by letting dust mites bore their way through into the mattress. Whereas, a mattress and pillow protector protects your mattress and pillow again these bugs giving you a healthier sleeping surface.

There are many brands out there that produce products for this purpose. I am providing you with a link below of a highly recommended product that I have been using for years. Below is a list of reasons why I like them:

  • They are designed to fit any mattress size.
  • Pillow protectors come in standard and king size.
  • They are waterproof, stain proof, and dust mite proof.
  • They come with a 10 year warranty which means that if it should fail in the 10 years, the company will purchase you a new mattress or pillow.
  • No allergens to cause irritations.
  • Wash and dry with your other linens.
  • This brand comes with either a terrycloth cotton fabric or one made from a eucalyptus fiber which is 100% natural and breaths better than the cotton.
  • Whether you have an old mattress or just purchased a new mattress, the mattress protector and pillow protectors are the best way to protect your investment as well as giving you healthier sleep.


“Contrary to popular belief, dust mites do not bite!”

Short video showing house dust mites under a microscope.

Pets!

Having an itchy pet can be annoying to all of us but, the house dust mite typically causes skin reactions to a dog or cat inhaling dust particles. They are simply reacting to the same common allergens we are talking about for you and me.

This 'spider like' bug bothers dogs more than cats, but nevertheless about 30% of dogs who have allergies react strongly to them. It gets so bad that sometimes that pet owners find themselves spending a lot of time and money in the vets office trying to figure out how to control the allergy of 'fido'.

This next item will be extremely difficult to enforce, but depending on the seriousness of your allergy symptoms - you are advised to keep the pets out of your bedrooms at night while you sleep. Especially the kids room.

Please take this poll

How many people in your household?

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BONUS!

If you have children, let me share this idea with you that may make you smile. After reading this article, share it with your school aged children. Let's say they're in grades four through eight. What a great opportunity for them to investigate this subject further and make it into a health project or science fair project from home. And the teacher will be very impressed with the topic. I think young people would find this topic fascinating and fun to learn about. A+ Let me know if this is something that your child is interested in.

In Conclusion!

By following these steps and being aware of what a dust mite is, you will certainly reduce the populations of this invisible menace in your home and help control those allergy symptoms for a healthier living environmen.

© 2017 Reginald Thomas

Let me know if this article was at all helpful to you.

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